Following the sheer intensity of 2019’s Caligula, I figured I knew what to expect coming into Lingua Ignota’s latest record. Whilst Sinner Get Ready retains the sonic juxtaposition of its predecessor, its arrangements are starker and more severe. I can say with certainty that this is one of the most terrifying albums I’ve ever listened to.
A constant hum of anxiety is present throughout. Opening track “The Order of Spiritual Virgins” offers unparalleled levels of tension that keeps me on the very edge of my sanity before throwing me off the edge with a sudden piano crash (perhaps the most effective jump-scare I’ve experienced in a piece of music). Make no mistake, Sinner Get Ready is uncompromising, and very brutal indeed. Some listeners will struggle to see it through to the end, whereas others will feel oddly comforted by its harshness. True to form, I am in the latter. I find it hauntingly beautiful.
Many artists have conceived similar concepts to Sinner Get Ready – muddled and contradictive relationships with religion – but it’s the execution that is so striking. Ignota’s voice is, in a word, astonishing. It grabs me in a similar way to Nick Cave, occasionally even Leonard Cohen.
Her range is one thing, but its the delivery that makes the music so devastatingly immersive. There is pure venom in her voice as she says ‘take hold of my gentle axe, and split him open’ on “I Who Bend The Tall Grasses”, before shrieking ‘I don’t give a fuck, just kill him/you have to, I’m not asking’. It’s genuinely horrifying, evoking emotions I haven’t felt listening to music before. Whilst I think the quality in the tracklist does fluctuate, Sinner Get Ready is likely to stay with me for a long while. It’s like watching The Exorcist for the first time.
Musically, the album is comprised mostly of piano and strings, with moments of avant-garde folk that represent the unsettling realities of Christianity. There’s not a whole lot of melody to hold on to, but this isn’t exactly a classic sing-along affair. Sinner Get Ready grabs you instead with vivid imagery: brutal depictions of ugly devotion, told by a voice so authentically traumatic that it could well be a psychological trigger for those unprepared. I’m unsure if it will go down as one of my very favourite records of the year, but it is most certainly an unforgettable piece of art. A monumental – and ghastly - achievement.
8 out of 10
Not since we reviewed The Downward Spiral have I found an album to be so wonderfully horrible. Sinner Get Ready is gothic, livid, and blood-curdling, listening like an R-rated opera. What might easily have been wretched is instead coarsely beautiful.
Ignota’s performance is both otherworldly and guttural. Her willingness to look beastly subjects dead in the eye is awe-inspiring. It gives even the most ornate arrangements a steeliness and weight. Combined with a restless medley of bells and flutes and fiddles and synthesisers and piano keys, the result is what you might expect hell’s hymns to sound like.
For better or worse, I have to gear myself up to listen to Sinner Get Ready. From start to finish it groans right at the brink of breaking point - magnificent yet exhausting. It’s a record everyone ought to hear, though I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to hear it again.
9 out of 10
I’ve sat with Sinner Get Ready since its release, and I still don’t want to write about it. Lingua Ignota has produced an album that greets listeners with foreboding, dissonant, and at times uncomfortable music. Hayter’s expressive vocal performances, which often sit somewhere between anguish and anger from the outset, combine with eerie vocals and cacophonous, drone-like, sparse instrumentation to create atmospheric, unsettling soundscapes.
Sinner Get Ready flourishes as it continues, with “Pennsylvania Furnace” providing the first moment of delicate respite, swelling and soaring as it progresses with some beautiful choices of instrumentation. Even in the more ominous moments, tracks are coloured with folk and fizzy electronica while remaining firmly orchestral at their roots.
By the home stretch, “Man Is Like a Spring Flower” is considerably more palatable despite the dour lyrical content. Its clockwork polyrhythms surge the track forward as layer builds upon layer to become a hypnotising affair. I can’t disagree with Hayter herself when she describes it as ‘a wild ride.’ To close, “The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata” is almost unrecognisably traditional next to the opening cuts. Warmer than anything else on this album, it’s a gorgeous piece to end on, though the lyrical sting and underlying mournful air don’t let the tone escape too far into the realms of positivity.
It still feels like Sinner Get Ready hasn’t quite clicked with me. Inaccessible and a little terrifying from the outset, it isn’t an easy ride, but everything here feels incredibly considered, packed with evocative words and purposeful music. It certainly won’t be my easy Sunday listening, but some moments on this tracklist have made for the most intense, engaging listening of this year.
9 out of 10